“If you cannot think of anything appropriate to say you will please restrict your remarks to the weather.”
Sage advice from Mrs. Dashwood (in the movie version of Sense and Sensibility). But what if I can’t think of anything appropriate to say about the weather? And I can’t really think about anything else because the weather is so ridiculously godawful it’s like it’s jumping up and down yelling “look at me, I’m gross and depressing! Hey, you, yeah you, look at me, I’m gross and depressing!” We haven’t even been getting the snow that the rest of the East coast has been blessed with (I’m Minnesotan, I luuuuuv snow). Nope, we’re getting this very slightly frozen version of rain. It’s raining unflavored slushies! I’m considering investing in an ark.
There’s really nothing for it in this sort of weather. The only thing to do is to bake bread (mmm, challah – I think Joel may have decided he wants it to keep raining) and eat soup. Maybe the weather has actually been sending me a sign because it’s soup making time anyway. Whenever I find myself with a backlog of root vegetables – which tends to happen at this time of year because I can’t seem to eat them at the same pace that my farm share sends them to me – I go on a peeling, chopping, simmering, soup making rampage! It’s one of the very most efficient ways to use up ginormous quantities of random vegetables. I’m willing to throw pretty much anything but the kitchen sink into a pot of soup and see how it’ll come out.
Soup is an awesome and easy thing to learn to make and improvise with because virtually every soup out there follows some basic soup making principles. Sure, some may get cream or cheese, some have meat or seafood or beans, some have root vegetables some have greens, etc. etc. But, almost every soup begins with sautéing a chopped onion in a couple of Tablespoons of butter or oil, until the onion is softened.
Then, ingredients that take a long time to cook are added and stirred for a couple of minutes with the onions. Slow cooking ingredients are things like root vegetables, beans, and lentils. Then you add stock (vegetable, chicken, beef, or seafood, depending on what’s in the soup and what you like), or a combination of stock with a couple of cups of water or cream, until it’s soupy enough to be soup. This is when you also add the spices or herbs you want. I often add thyme, dried parsley, and a bay leaf. But, on this latest occasion I was feeling spicy, so I threw in a few big shakes of turmeric, coriander, and curry powder, a little sprinkle of cayenne, plus a chunk of ginger and some peeled garlic cloves (take these out at the end if you see them in your bowl, rather than serving them or you may find yourself with extremely clear sinuses – like I did!).
Bring the pot to a boil and then turn it down to simmer and cover it. Simmer everything until the slow cooking ingredients are soft and nearly done. Then, add in the fast cooking ingredients like, chopped greens, chopped cooked meat, precooked rice or pasta. Let everything simmer until these are heated through (this is usually another 5-10 minutes). Then, “Soup’s on!” If all goes well, the dreariness will skulk away, tail between it’s legs, leaving you to enjoy your steamy, hot, wholesome soup.